Kampala, 09th/April/2013; Court has adjourned a case in which The Observer journalists dragged the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and the Attorney General to Court seeking for nullification of their suspension from covering news in Parliament. The case was adjourned to 13th/May/2013 because the trial judge Elidad Mwangusha was away on leave.
Sulaiman Kakaire and David Tash Lumu were on 28th January 2013 suspended for writing articles titled ‘How Kadaga, Oulanyah fought over petition’ and ‘House recall petitioners strike deal with Kadaga’ respectively, on grounds that the articles were inaccurate and damaging to the offices and persons of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
The duo, through their lawyer Mulindwa Allan of Mulindwa Allan & Co. Advocates want Court to declare that the decision made by Parliament through the Office of the Clerk to Parliament to suspend them was ultra vires and should therefore be lifted. The journalists are also seeking for a permanent injunction restraining Parliamentary officials from ever interfering with the journalists’ reporting at Parliament in case they report unfavorably on the Speaker.
The journalists are further seeking for a declaration that the Guidelines for media coverage of Parliament which were revoked by the Speaker do not have the force of law and cannot be enforced. They say that the suspension has greatly affected them since they can no longer access Parliament to do investigative journalism and, or do independent reports.
In an affidavit, the Clerk to Parliament of Uganda, Jane L. Kibirige defended the suspension saying that the Parliament is empowered by law to allow or not to allow any stranger into the precincts of Parliament unless they are members or officers of Parliament who can access parliament as a right, and therefore journalists have no absolute right to access the precincts of Parliament
“Parliament should not in any way curtail, but work to promote the fundamental rights and freedoms of Ugandans, including freedom of expression and information, so the decision by the Speaker should not be condoned.” said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator Wokulira Ssebaggala.
For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
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